Eye In The Sky

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
You all look like ants to me.

Submitted: July 02, 2016

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Submitted: July 02, 2016

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People are always asking me why I do it.  I have a set of standard responses. 

“I like the challenge.”

“Because it is there.”

And all sorts of other meaningless tripe.  Here’s the real reason why I illegally climb skyscrapers:  BECAUSE IT IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.

The only reason I am writing this is to avoid serving a sentence in the Cook County Jail.  That was the agreement I made with Judge Hereford.  I have to write a three-page essay.  About why I constantly violate city ordinances by climbing up the sides of buildings, without the permission of the owners.  It was that or spend a week locked up for trespassing and criminal endangerment.

There was a good chance I would get away with scaling Trump Tower.  I only climbed the first 16 floors, to the outdoor patio.  I figured it would be a quick climb.  I’d sneak inside through the restaurant, and take the elevator back down.  I started before sunrise and didn’t think anyone saw me.  I was wrong.

I thought I could outrun the policeman.  I was wrong.

When he swung the billy stick, I thought, “This is going to hurt.”  I was right about that.

It started when I was very young.  My parents didn’t get along with each other and were always fighting.  That upset me, and I wanted to get away from it.  At first, I would hide in my room.  We lived in a small apartment in a Detroit housing project.  But the thin bedroom door didn’t stop their angry words.  Hiding behind the closet door was barely any better and I quickly realized I was claustrophobic.

One day I was playing on the balcony when an argument erupted.  For some reason, I looked at the balcony above me.  Then I looked at the railing.  I thought, “If I stand on it, I can reach the floor above.”  Before I knew it, I’d climbed up and was looking through the window into our neighbor’s living room.

The man saw me and began to open the balcony door.  It only took me a few seconds to climb up to the next level.  A minute later, I was sitting on the roof.  I had a spectacular view of downtown Detroit.  And I couldn’t hear my parents arguing.

Eventually my parents stopped fighting and realized I was missing.  They called the Super, and he asked around.  When our upstairs neighbor said he saw me on his balcony, the Super put two and two together and checked the roof. 

That was one of the few times my parents noticed me misbehaving long enough to punish me.  It was the first, and last time my father ever spanked me.  My mother was harsher, she didn’t let me have desert for an entire week.

 Whenever I went missing after that, they just assumed I was on the roof, and didn’t bother looking for me.  I would climb back down when I got hungry.

That was how I got started.  I learned how to scale any kind of structure.  Buildings and bridges are the best.  I climbed a radio tower once, and developed a throbbing headache before I got halfway up.  I quit and started back down.  I was dizzy and seeing double when I hit the ground.  Turns out extremely high doses of radio waves aren’t good for you.

I never got arrested when I was a kid, climbing the tall structures on the bad side of Detroit.  Where I lived, there were murders or other violent crimes every day.  Mostly, people ignored me when they saw me climbing up the side of their building.  I don’t look very threatening.

When I did get the attention of law enforcement, they were more annoyed than anything else.  None of them wanted to fool around with the paperwork.  Usually they just gave me a ride home and told me to be careful.

I did get noticed by someone, Edgar Newman.  He’s my boss.  He runs a bicycle courier business in Detroit.  He pays me well to ride a bicycle, extremely fast, like a total maniac, through downtown, to deliver letters and packages.

Edgar saw me doing my thing one day, and actually walked all the way up the stairs to the roof to talk to me.

“Hey kid, I saw you climbing.  That was impressive.  You know how to ride a bicycle?”

“Everybody knows how to ride a bicycle.  So what?”

“If you ride a bike as aggressively as you climb, I’ll pay you cash, by the job, to deliver items for my customers.  Most of them are lawyers.  When they are in a hurry to get a document or a package across town, my phone goes off.  Nothing is faster in city traffic than a crazy person on a bicycle.”

“I don’t own a bike.”

“Don’t worry about that.  I’ll loan you one at first.  You can make as much as $50 an hour, depending on how fast you are.  You’ll be able to buy your own bike soon enough.”

“I’m only sixteen.  I go to school.”

“Deliveries start as early as 6am.  You can do jobs either before or after school.  Why don’t you come by in the morning and give it a try?  If you like it, you can borrow the bike as long as you want.”

Edgar handed me a business card, then walked off.

I showed up the next morning and did a delivery.  Riding through the traffic was dangerous, but fun.  Not as much fun as climbing, but no one paid me to do that.  Edgar handed me cash and told me there were no guarantees, but he had work for me almost every day if I wanted it.  I took the bus back to my neighborhood and just made it to school on time.

Having money in my pocket made me look at school in a different light.  I made poor grades and had no plans for after graduation.  The truth was, I only went because I was supposed to.  I didn’t have anywhere else to be.  Until now.  At the end of first period, I walked out the front door of the school, and never came back.

Edgar chuckled when I showed back up at his office.  He said, “You picked a good day to start your new career.  I was wondering how I was going to deliver what I just promised.”

The money I made as a courier changed everything.  I realized I no longer had a reason to put up with my parents.  I didn’t even say goodbye to them.  Just left a note on the kitchen table saying not to worry, I’ll call from time to time.  I never called.

Sam, one of the other drivers, had a two bedroom apartment and let me move in.  For the first time in my life, I didn’t have anything to escape from.

I live cheap, and money started accumulating in my checking account.  My bad habit escalated to the next level, that day when 60 Minutes aired a story about the Sears Tower, in Chicago.

The Sears Tower is an architectural marvel.  It is an entire city built into one gigantic building.  Normal people would marvel at what they see inside the structure.  They would be impressed with the view from the observatory on the 103rd floor.  I only knew one thing.  I lusted in my heart to climb that awesome beast.

So that was actually the first time I got arrested.  It’s not like I did a bad job planning the adventure.  I had enough money for the bus ticket and the hotel room.  I had the equipment I needed.  I made the climb without any unexpected problems.  Unless you count the news helicopter, and the policemen waiting for me when I got to the top.

The judge seemed to be a combination of amused and annoyed.  Fortunately, I had enough cash to pay the $300 fine.  I knew when I promised him I’d never do it again, I was lying.

I’m not sure how many times I’ve been arrested.  I stopped counting at fifty.  When I got arrested in Spain, the police didn’t even put me in the holding cell.  I sat at a table and played poker with the guards until they took me to the judge.  I was relieved when he let me go without a fine, I’d lost most of my money gambling.

The judge in Switzerland was an avid climber and insisted that we go to the building where I was arrested, so I could show him my technique.  He took me home with him for supper, his wife was also a climber and wanted to meet me.

No matter how tempted you are by the amazing architecture in Kuala Lumpur, never illegally climb a building there.  I do not want to talk about what happened.  If you have a reason to be in Malaysia, my advice is to obey all laws.

I’ve tried to quit many times.  It keeps pulling me in.  I’d gone without for almost three months when Trump Towers called to me.  It’s not my fault.  I live to reach the top.  The view is indescribable. For one moment, I am on top of the world.

In closing, I’d like to say it’s pretty dumb to make addicts write stories about their bad habit.  But, I’m claustrophobic and I’ll do just about anything to avoid jail.  I belong on the outside of buildings, not locked inside them.


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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